Following the release of their first album since the departure of original guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge, long time punk rockers Blink-182 start their UK leg of their California tour with a night to remember.
I think I speak for all Blink fans when I say that I didn’t know how the band would bounce back from DeLonge’s departure in 2015. Many of us thought it was all over. But bringing in Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame was the best decision they’ve made in a long time. From bassist Mark Hoppus’ account, DeLonge started getting arrogant and forgetting his responsibilities to Blink which lead to tension on the stage.
None of this was an issue on Friday (July 7th) in Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena however, as you could see how relaxed drummer Travis Barker and Hoppus felt with performing alongside Skiba on stage.
Having already performed their US leg with big names like All American Rejects and All Time Low, the band appealed to their UK fan base by having mesmeric Frank Turner and his backing band The Sleeping Souls as the warm up act. Considering I’m not particularly a strong Turner fan, his stage persona was one of the best I’ve seen; constantly acknowledging the audience, encouraging claps (always a good sign) and even raising awareness for the sexual assault faced by women at gigs much like fellow musician Frank Carter.
The audience, having been sufficiently tanked up on beers and riled up by the likes of Frank Turner, burst into a ferocious roar as Travis Barker’s pulsating intro on ‘Feeling This’ opened the show. Starting big with the classics was a bold move considering this is our first time hearing Skiba as replacement for DeLonge, yet Skiba’s vocals bear a refreshing likeness to the original while maintaining his own unique style.
Of course it was to be expected that there would be something missing when hearing tracks like ‘First Date’ or ‘Reckless Abandon’ that only the angsty, punk rock vocals of Tom DeLonge could fix. After two years, Skiba still seems to be finding his feet in the Blink dynamic. Either that or his stage persona is just plain awful because for each one of Hoppus’ jokes and comments, Skiba silently played the guitar alongside. I’ll wait to give the guy a chance, but giving the audience SOME commentary would not have gone unnoticed.
The band put on great performances complete with impressive pyrotechnics, including the odd burst of fire every now and then and taunting of the audience from the night before in Leeds just to make us feel special (oh Mark). Halfway through the show, the band instructed everyone to turn their torches on as they’d be singing ‘Happy Holidays, You Bastard’ (a song about grandpas shitting themselves) in the dark. A much needed sarcastic, satirical and personal Blink-182 touch that we all know and love.
Classic hits were intertwined well with a few songs from the new release, were performed to a high standard and were met to equal excitement from the audience. An hour and a half later, the band finishes their set with the much angsty ‘Los Angeles’, before being demanded back on stage by the audience for the encore.
The camera for the encore (‘All The Small Things’, of course) nicely panned to the audience and a ‘Travis, I’m Pregnant’ sign. Ending with their first single ‘Dammit’, followed by an incredibly impressive drum solo from Barker’s 14 year old son Landon was a bittersweet moment for the audience following Tom’s departure but also a reminder to the world that although one era of Blink may be over, the band certainly isn’t.
Featured image: Angeli Bhandal